Why a book review changed my life

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As a child, when the school reports were handed out, my stomach churned with anxiety. It’s not that I was a bad student, but I was very shy and this was something teachers were quick to point out. Every. Single. Year.

‘Louise has a good grasp of English but doesn’t join in the class debates, and needs to…’

‘Louise excels at maths but is very quiet in class, and needs to…’

‘Louise produces some excellent work but fails to put her hand up, and needs to….’

 But. But. But. And it didn’t matter how much I studied, the exams I passed, or the homework I always (nearly always) handed in on time. It was never enough. I was never enough. There was always a ‘but’ no matter how hard I tried. My results were good but my personality was always in question and my fragile confidence shrunk year after year, and the more I was told to speak up, the more insular I became.

Last month when my debut novel ‘The Sister,’ went out to Book Bloggers I was literally shaking with fear, and for days and days I couldn’t face seeing if there were reviews. I was writing my second novel and I knew I should look and take anything constructive and use it to improve my writing, so I took a deep breath, and logged on to Goodreads and clicked on a review which said: –

‘The Sister is Louise Jensen’s first novel but shows the maturity of a writer who is already very skilled at her craft.’ ‘Louise’s writing style captivated me instantly. I could hear and see each scene as it unfolded.’

So that was the good bit and I read on waiting for the ‘but….’ and ‘she needs to….’ but there wasn’t one and I’m not ashamed to admit I cried. Throughout this process I’d felt that if one person enjoyed reading Grace’s story it would all be worthwhile and suddenly it all was. Not everyone will like my story I know. Not all my reviews will be glowing, but that’s ok.

Publishers and authors talk about how important reviews are in terms of sales, of getting your name out there but I never thought they could have such an impact on the way I feel about myself.

The reviews have eradicated the memory of sitting, hands trembling, while my Mum sliced open the envelope containing my school report. That feeling of never being enough. I finally feel that I might be, just the way I am.

 

 

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37 thoughts on “Why a book review changed my life

  1. Congrats on the stellar reviews!

    As a side note, I too have heard the “but” all my life, and continue to get it at work. I am reading Quiet-The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and am seeing myself in a new light. All our lives we’re taught that introversion is a weakness and not a strength. But we introverts have much to be proud of!

  2. I know exactly what you mean. Congrats on the book and congrats also on becoming comfortable in you own skin. Two powerful achievements. Enjoy both.

  3. Congrats on the book Louise and congrats also on becoming comfortable in your own skin. Two powerful achievements. Enjoy.

  4. Really sorry, as a shortly to retire teacher, that your teachers made you feel like that. Not my style at all I hope! But congratulations on the about turn in your fortunes which must be all down to you just keeping on going anyway!

  5. This is so awesome to read, Louise! I’m thrilled for you. I can relate to your stories about school and not speaking up. The more people fussed over it, the more impossible it seemed. I was painfully shy and understand that “not good enough” feeling, so I totally get this.Thanks for sharing it. You’re on your way now! Congrats on the great review.

  6. It doesn’t matter how confident or self assured you are, it’s always good to get appreciation, and that’s essentially what a good review provides you with. Someone appreciated what you created, and every good review is an affirmation that you did the right thing. Looking forward to reading it when it’s out

  7. I know how you feel on that one. I am a very shy and insecure individual and always feel I am being judged, struggling to really communicate with others apart from online. Because I do a rather prominent job (manager of a dept of 400 people) people seem to think I am confident and self assured and if I don’t speak it is because of ignorance. People can never understand how my passion and ‘confidence’ at work and introversion in personal matters are just two sides of the same coin.

    Well done on the book and take all the praise you have earned. And remember that there is nothing wrong with being quiet in a world that’s already so full of noise and bluster. Keep writing. Words, fiction or non, are far more powerful written than spoken anyway 😉

    • Thanks so much for your reply Jen. It is funny how many different faces we can put on isn’t it? You do fabulously well managing the department. And you’re right the written word is far more powerful.

  8. Reblogged this on The Bumble Files and commented:
    I was painfully shy in school which is why I can relate so much to Louise Jensen’s post. Mostly, I’m so thrilled about this wonderful moment in this writer’s life!

    Her psychological thriller “The Sister” is debuting in July. I can’t wait.

  9. Here through Amy’s post.
    The cover is great, very professional and inviting, an element of mystery already established.

    As for being an introvert (i’m sort of assuming) at least we have books to write 🙂

  10. Pingback: The Sunday Post // July 17, 2016 – Comma Hangover

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